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Consent Decree Monitor Releases Second Report

Cleveland's police monitoring team presents before city council last year. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

The Cleveland Police Monitoring team has released its second semi-annual report on the city’s compliance with the federal consent decree. It praised new policies for use of force and crisis intervention. But the report lobbied harsh criticism elsewhere.

The Office of Professional Standards (OPS) is an independent body that investigates civilian complaints against the police. The monitor’s report said it is in “unacceptable and appalling” condition.

As of November 21, 2016, OPS had 439 unfinished investigations. That’s more than four out of five complaints filed last year.

Lead monitor Matthew Barge says that right now, OPS is not a “serious” body.

“Officers and residents need confidence that there’ll be a full, fair and thorough investigation of any complaints about officer misconduct," said Barge. "I think there is a tremendous road to go to getting that entity to be a high functioning mechanism.”

For starters, Barge says OPS needs to be properly staffed.

Former US Attorney Greg White oversees the implementation of the consent decree for the city. He says they’re committed to making sure the OPS functions effectively.

“It’s pretty clear that the city is going to need some sort of additional resources at OPS in order to resolve that backlog," White said.

White emphasizes the city has made progress, but he also acknowledges there’s a lot more work to be done. 

The monitor’s report noted one significant step forward for OPS. The office, as well as the accompanying board that recommends discipline to the police chief, recently received operations manuals. For more than two decades, they’ve functioned without official rules.